Category Archives: Spurious

The hills are unaware that we are watching them, he says. The trees. The insects. This is what is marvellous.

No one is watching us, he says. Nothing sees us.

But at other times, it frightens him, this ‘no one is watching us’. It’s as though not-watching itself is watching; as though the sky, which sees nothing, sees everything in that seeing-nothing.

We can have no secrets from the sky, he says. We are read by the sky.

— Lars Iyer, Wittgenstein Jr. 

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‘Only the hopeless can truly understand the everyday’

He can imagine me as a boy, W. says, cycling out through the new housing estates, and through what remained of the woodland – muddy tracks along field-edges, fenced-in bridleways and overgrown footpaths. —‘You were looking for something’, he says. ‘You knew something was missing.’

He sees it in his mind’s eye: I’m carrying my bike over the railway bridge. I’m cycling through glades of tree stumps in the forestry plantations. I’m following private roads past posh schools and riding academies. I’m looking for barrows and ley lines, W. says. I’m looking for Celtic gods and gods of any kind.

And what do I find as I wheel my bike across the golf course? What, in the carpark of an out-of-town retail park? What, on the bench outside the supermarket, eating my discounted sandwiches? The everyday, W. says, which is to say, the opposite of the gods.

*

Religion is about this world, about the ordinary, the everyday, W. says, over our pints at The Queen’s Oak. Why does no one understand that? W. says. Why will no one listen?

But when it comes to the everyday itself, I am the expert, not him, W. says. Only I understand what it means to reach the depths, which is to say the surface, of the everyday.

It has to be felt, the everyday, W. is convinced of that. It has to have defeated you. Humiliated you. A man who hasn’t been brought to his knees by the everyday can have no understanding of the everyday, says W., aphoristically.

I’ve certainly been brought to my knees, W. says, that much is clear. I’ve spent whole years on my knees.

*

‘We are ferociously religious’, says W., quoting Bataille. Are we? —‘Oh yes’, W. says, ‘especially you. Especially you!’ That’s why he hangs out with me, w. says, he’s sure of it: my immense religious instinct, of which I am entirely unaware.

It’s all to do with my intimate relationship with the everyday, W. says. It’s to do with my years of unemployment and menial work, he says.

When he thinks of religion, he immediately thinks of me working in my warehouse, he says. He thinks of me in the warehouse with no hope in my life.

Only the hopeless can truly understand the everyday, W. says. Only they can approach the everyday at its level. And only those who can approach the everyday in such a way are really religious, W. says.

— Lars Iyer, Dogma

A drop of the sea in the sea

W. dreams of a thought that would move with what it thinks, follow and respond to it, like a surfer his wave. A thought that would inhabit what was to be thought, like a fish the sea – no, a thought that would be only a drop of the sea in the sea, belonging to its object as water does to water.

— Lars Iyer, Dogma

A merciful surplus of strength

Each time, the act of writing depends upon what Kafka has called ‘a merciful surplus of strength’ that returns the writer to the ‘I can’ that opens the world according to what is possible for a human being. Each time, strength lifts the writer from the quagmire, from those swamplike moods in which the self is not yet gathered together. Moods which, if not uncommon are too quickly forgotten, like the night mists that vanish with morning.

Spurious 

One writes for the disadjusted… that is to say, for one’s friends, and less for the friends one has than for the innumerable unknown people who have the same life as us, who roughly and crudely understand the same things, are able to accept or must refuse the same, and who are in the same state of powerlessness and official silence.

— Dionys Mascolo, via here

Sometimes it is necessary to depart. Sometimes it is necessary to leave it all behind. That’s how I understood the act of blogging, back when I started Spurious, the blog which shares the same name as [my] novel. As someone who had made some progress as an academic – a journey which implies valuable training as well as compromise and despair – I thought a kind of exodus was necessary, from existing forms of published writing. Leave it all behind! I told myself. Leave the Egypt of introductory books and academic journals and edited collections behind. Leave the slave-drivers behind, and the sense you have of being a slave. Leave capitalism and capitalist relations behind. Leave behind any sense of the importance of career and advancement. Leave behind those relationships that are modelled on investment and return.

Lars Iyer

As if what was greatest about these artists (and there are others — Duras, say) is a kind of asceticism that leads them through their art as though it preceded it; as though writing (or painting, or filmmaking) was only a means, just as Zen can combine with both the art of archery and that of flower arranging. A kind of asceticism, a great sobriety that can lead a right-wing monarchist Catholic like Blanchot, young and privileged, very far from himself. Who is he, become writer? Who does he become?

Vague questions poorly posed. But I wonder in my foolishness whether there is not a kind of ethics in writing, in filmmaking, in painting… an art of life from the perspective of which (from its great heights) one would not laugh at Giacometti’s prose. This question, though: are we (this ‘we’ again — how laughable!) not too late for that, too late altogether? That asceticism must also be combined with a terrible self-mockery, an unsparing suspicion as the importance of writing, of painting, of filmmaking disappears altogether (only an idiot would call himself a poet; only a fool an artist. And who could call themselves a philosopher? Laughable, all laughable).

Spurious